People, Profiles

Farmworker’s daughter looks to a future in brain science

Undocumented student finds a warm welcome on the UC Berkeley campus.

Lizbeth Nunez
(UC Berkeley photo by Ryan Hoang)

Just a few weeks ago, Lizbeth Nuñez was picking grapes in the hot sun near Bakersfield. Seeking extra money for school, she worked in the fields alongside her mother, who has labored as a farmworker in the Central Valley since migrating to the U.S. from Mexico more than 15 years ago.

Now, Nuñez is just weeks into her life as a UC Berkeley student, already deeply immersed in studies she hopes will lead to a career as a psychopathologist – a brain scientist who studies the physical and physiological causes of mental illness. 

At the end of her first week at Berkeley, she told Nicole Freeling in the UC Newsroom: “I love it.”  And, she added: “The number of people who are welcoming and accept you for who you are is amazing.”

It’s especially amazing to her because Nuñez is an undocumented immigrant, one of a group of UC students who are hitting the books amid ongoing political controversy over their status. They find help in university services aimed at easing their path. 

Freeling tells her story on the UC Newsroom website.

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